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Parents report poor treatment at heart surgery unit

The parents of children treated in the heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary have complained that they were treated poorly by the staff working there. In addition to these complaints, an investigation into death rates of children undergoing surgery there led to the closing down of the unit.
Although the unit was declared safe and later reopened, the report highlighted how parents felt unsupported following the deaths of their children on the unit. It also highlighted the problems in the unit, which, although cleared of high mortality rates, was deemed negligent in patient care.
The report talked about the experiences of 16 families who used the unit, all of whom requested the transfer of their child to another hospital as a result of their treatment in the Leeds centre.
One of the most serious examples of poor, and potentially negligent, treatment was that of Lily Cater, whose mother was told by the unit she would not survive beyond the age of five years, due to her congenital heart defect diagnosed when she was eight months old.
Her mother, Michala Cater, says that, when Lily’s condition got much worse at the age of two, they waited six months for an appointment with the cardiologist and, when they finally reached the appointment, she was told to make the most of the time they had left together.
Mrs Cater then took Lily to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) for a second opinion on her condition and, following surgery at the BCH, Lily, now aged nine, is living a healthy and happy life.
While an NHS representative apologised for the poor treatment of families and parents on the unit and gave assurances that there would be real changes to stop this happening again, there appear to be errors in the treatment of patients and of the families.
Everyone has the right to an acceptable standard of medical care. If you think that you or a member of your family has received unacceptable treatment while in hospital, you should speak to a clinical negligence solicitor for confidential advice on making a claim.
Call 01302 320621 or email

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